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North Adams Commends Actions of Public Safety Personnel
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:34PM / Friday, June 17, 2022
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The three public safety personnel are given a standing ovation.

The officers and dispatcher were presented with pins and commendations. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Three public safety personnel were lauded for their efforts in February that helped save the life of a shooting victim. 
 
Officers Jonathan Beaudreau and Taylor Kline and dispatcher Kaitlyn LaValley were commended by Mayor Jennifer Macksey at Tuesday's City Council meeting. 
 
They had been part of the response to a shooting at about 1:20 a.m. near Key West Lounge on State Street on Feb. 19 that injured two people. The suspected perpetrator, Paul Douglas Starbird, 19, was arrested on firearms and assault charges. 
 
"Because of dispatcher the LaValley's quick and calm thinking and her use of her 911 training, she was able to send the appropriate personnel to the scene immediately," the mayor said. The officers found two victims, including one who had been shot multiple times and was bleeding out. 
 
"Officers Boudreau and Kline swung into action, never hesitated and used life-saving techniques to stabilize the individual. Later that evening, I was told that the quick response and the on-the-scene treatment saved both men's lives," Macksey said. "While I know all three of you will say 'it's just part of the job, mayor,' without the professionalism and quick actions of all three of you the end result would have been very tragic."
 
Chief Jason Wood presented the three with life-saving pins and the council and attendees gave them a standing ovation.  
 
"The city is a much better place because of your efforts that night, and for days moving forward with your continued service to the citizens of this great city," said the mayor. 
 
In other business at Tuesday's meeting, the council approved an increase in tax rates that had been requested by the city's sole taxi cab company, RJ's Taxi owned by Obilio Rodriguez Jr. Councilor Peter Oleskiewicz had brought forth the request, which Rodriquez said was because of higher costs in fuel and wages. 
 
The last time fares had been raised was 2014. The new fees are $9 within a one-mile radius of Monument Square and outside of that zone, $10. Fees are $2 for each additional person (not including car seats) and $3 for scheduled pickup. 
 
The councilors, after some debate, amended the order to also include a $2 coupon discount for those age 60 and older and disabled individuals to be worked out through the mayor's office and the Council on Aging. 
 
The order had been through several committees and Oleskiewicz pushed for it to be approved, noting that Rodriquez had been waiting for six weeks while gasoline was closing on $5 a gallon. 
 
"We cannot force a private business to do a lot of the things that's that was expected from some of these committees," he said, in response to Councilor Ashley Shade's questioning why none of the committee recommendations had been included. 
 
Rodriquez said he was willing to work with the city on discounts but questioned how that would work.  
 
"How do I know who's elderly or how do I know who's disabled or how do I see the disability of the individual and how do I judge that?" he asked. 
 
Shade said another recommendation proposed is that anytime minimum wage is increased that there's an automatic fare increase. That would prevent a sudden hike for customers and prevent the cab company from having to come back all the time for a raise. She also thought the $3 scheduled fee too munch in the current economic environment. 
 
"As somebody who frequently uses a taxi,  I can tell you that RJ's is a great company," she said. "They are very accommodating to people. They work with people to make sure they can get where they need to go. But I don't want to see this hurt people in the future."
 
Oleskiewicz said it was a private business and the council shouldn't be dictating its rates. 
 
Councilor Jennifer Barbeau said she hadn't received any correspondence from the committees and questioned why this order was different from one that was pulled last meeting and if it was a violation of Open Meeting Law. 
 
Oleskiewicz said it was pulled because of clerical errors but it had gone to the Public Safety, IDEA and the Commission on Disabilities. 
 
Councilor Marie T. Harpin said the minutes from the Commission on Disabilities had voted to recommend the council confer with the solicitor on whether the discount was still in effect and that ordinance should specify a 30 percent taxi fare discount and remove the term "handicapped."
 
"This is a perfect example of how government works," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, who has often commented on the slow pace of getting things passed. "Gas is five bucks. 'Oh, let's send this to committee. Let's send it to this committee.' ... The guy needs a raise in order to stay in business, so let's give him a raise and let him stay in business."
 
The mayor said the old discount had been through the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and had expired some time ago. She said they had talked about in committee that the COA could take over issuing coupons to qualified individuals and agreed with Harpin that it should be spelled out in the order. 
 
Councilor Lisa Blackmer asked that councilors presenting orders that have gone to committee to ensure that any recommendations be brought forth so the entire council can be informed. 
 
The council also voted to rescind an obsolete ordinance that set a curfew for residents age 16 and younger. Shade had been pushing for months to pull the ordinance, saying unfairly targeted a certain citizens. 
 
Other councilors had been hesitant to rescind, feeling it gave law enforcement "a tool" but Chief Jason Wood had informed the Public Safety Committee that it was not used. The city solicitor had been queried and committee Chair Bryan Sapienza reported at an earlier meeting that the opinion was that the ordinance was challenging and could be interpreted as a potential infringement of the right to move freely and could be challenged as discriminatory and a civil rights violation.  
 
Public Safety voted unanimously to repeal and the council followed suit on Tuesday. 
 
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